CONCERNS have been raised over the low numbers of women being tested for breast cancer in Blackburn with Darwen, with the borough having the 16th lowest screening rate in England.

Statistics published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed just 10,830 women of the borough’s ‘eligible women’ had been scanned within the last three years, which represented 68 per cent.

This was the second lowest figure in the North West, and well below the national average of 76 per cent. The rate in the rest of East Lancashire was also below average, at 73 per cent.

There have been slight reductions in screening in both areas, which mirrored a national trend.

The figures, for 151 NHS areas, measured the numbers of women aged 53 to 70 to be screened within the last three years.

Campaigner Ruth Loft, of the Blackburn and East Lancashire Breast Care Support Group, said: “I’m surprised at the take-up rate for screening in Blackburn with Darwen, especially as mammography is carried out locally while treatments take place in the excellent breast cancer unit at Burnley General Hospital.

“Ladies must be encouraged to attend check-ups as breast cancer can be treated successfully if found early.”

NHS England, which commissions breast screening services, said relevant officers were not available for comment.

Blackburn with Darwen’s large Asian population may be a factor. It has previously been highlighted the relatively poor survival rates for black and Asian women, saying this may be due to delays in diagnosis through late presentation.